LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board’s attorney advised the board Thursday that it should vote again on its selection of a health insurance administrator because the action to select Key Benefits Administrator was made in violation of board policy, board President Shelton Cobb confirmed.
The item to select an administrator of its health insurance program was on the board’s agenda as an introduction item Wednesday with the board voting 5-4 to move the issue to its action agenda.
Cobb said board attorney Roger Hamilton advised the board that its own policy requires a two-thirds majority vote, or six votes, to move an item from introduction to action. The same argument was made Wednesday night by former board member Mike Hefner, who urged the board to follow its own policy.
Despite Hefner’s warnings, the board voted 5-4 to approve Key Benefits Administrator as its choice for its insurance administrator. Voting in support of Key Benefits were Hunter Beasley, Kermit Bouillion, Mark Cockerham, Rae Trahan and Tehmi Chassion. Voting against were Greg Awbrey, Mark Allen Babineaux, Cobb and Tommy Angelle.
Prior to its vote to approve a contract with Key Benefits Administrator, there was a substitute motion to negotiate a contract extension with Blue Cross Blue Shield and to issue another request for proposals
The subsititute motion failed in a 4-5 vote, with Awbrey, Babineaux, Cobb and Angelle voting in favor of reissuing the request for proposals.
The same five board members who voted in support of Key Benefits, voted against the substitute motion.
Hamilton, a full-time prosecutor appointed by the district attorney to work with the board, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Retired employees who attended Wednesday’s meeting urged the board not to rush its decision.
At one point during the meeting, Awbrey questioned the board’s own process of issuing the request for proposals, saying the RFP wasn’t approved by the board.
“I think if we’re going to hold our vendors to a process, we have to hold ourselves to the same process,” Awbrey said. “I think if the attorney had known that we hadn’t approved the RFP, the only option given to us may have been to restart the entire process because we didn’t follow our own process.”
At its Sept. 18 meeting, the board rejected a proposal from Key Benefits Administrators at its Sept. 18 meeting. At Bouillion’s request the item was placed on the agenda again.
Blue Cross Blue Shield has been the district’s third-party administrator for the past 17 years. During Wednesday’s meeting, Bouillion told the board that an attorney had advised the board not to consider Blue Cross because the company failed to submit a complete proposal.
Hamilton told the board at its Wednesday meeting, after reviewing the legal opionion, that it should restart its selection process. If the board decided to start from square one, it could extend its contract with Blue Cross since its rates have a three-year guarantee, said Mona Bernard, the district’s risk management director.
Cobb said Thursday he was not sure if the board would need to hold a special meeting to revisit the selection issue or if could wait until the next board meeting.
“It’s a procedural matter,” Cobb said.